I am a cat person. No, I am dog person. No, I am a hamster person.
I’ve had many pets. When I was a child, we weren’t allowed larger pets in the rented flat of my parents, so I got hamsters. I fell in love with the little guys although later, in our house, we got cats, and hamsters were out of the picture. We also had chicken and rabbits (my parents were homesick for the farms of their youth). However, everyone in my family was of the opinion that we liked to eat meat, but not when we were personally acquainted with it. The chicken and rabbits died of old age and we didn’t get replacements.
The cats: Mother Mouse and her sons Black and Red were funny, wild critters. They had the run of the garden — and then Mouse and Red disappeared within one week. We think they got run over, the streets close by got busier over the years. But we never found out. Black, from then on, still had the run of the garden, but he was attached to a long leash which dragged behind him. There was always someone outside with him, he adjusted quite well. The leash slowed him down sufficiently.
After he died, I found an abandoned kitten and brought it to my parents since I wasn’t allowed pets in my student flat. He was Black the 2nd — my parents never were very imaginative where names were concerned. He was friendly and sweet and loved nothing more than playing with a plastic ring. I threw it and he brought it back. Sadly, he had feline leukemia and only lived for ten years.
Then Mum got another cat from the shelter, a very shy black and white cat named, you guessed it, Mouse the 2nd. In the meantime I had moved with the SO into a flat in his parents’ house, and we found another abandoned kitten: Susi.
Susi was sickly and sneezed and coughed a lot. We went with her to an expensive vet (the only one who was on call over the weekend), and he cooed, and aahed, and gave her something, and told us to come back next week . . . and so we did . . . and she didn’t get better. After several weeks and a sky-rocketing vet bill, I decided to see an acquaintance: an old vet who was close to retirement. He told me, “I’ll give her a vitamin injection, and either she gets better or she doesn’t. If she doesn’t, you gotta live with it. We repeat the injection once next week and then we’ll see.” I was fine with that, and, believe it or not, two weeks later the sneezing and coughing was gone.
Susi loved to cuddle. She was the sweetest cat you can imagine. She also loved to sit on my shoulder and being carried around. Everybody loved her.
One winter we went on a short holiday to go cross country skiing. The second to last day, when we went back to the car, we saw the strangest little kitten sitting in a corner and hissing madly at a dachshund that was barking at her. Of course we had to investigate. The kitten looked unkempt, hungry and its eyes were half closed. It stared at us suspiciously through its eye-slits but when I carefully picked it up, it purred.
We were asking around, no one knew the kitten, no one missed it and so we adopted this one as well. Her name was Rapunzel and she was a handful. Not only did she itch and scratch, she also had diarrhea and was coughing. So, off to the vets we went. They suspected mites but couldn’t find any. Then they gave her injections and checked her over. She got all her shots — but the eyes wouldn’t open and her temper was still very bad. It took the vets a while to find out that mites were, after all, the culprits. They had burrowed so deeply into Rapunzel’s skin that they didn’t show in the surface skin scratches the vets did. But as soon as she was treated for mites, she got better. Within a few days the eyes were open, diarrhea and cough were gone, and she could start to take up her rule over the house. Her temper, though greatly improved, always remained a bit dangerous. She got along well with Susi and the family, but you never could coax her into doing something she didn’t want to do. She was a very pretty cat with long hair.
Both, Susi and Rapunzel went over the Rainbow Bridge years ago. They were dear friends and I still miss them.